Abkhazia launches major military operation in Kodori Gorge

Abkhazian troops have started an operation to squeeze Georgian troops out of Kodori Gorge. The information was confirmed by the Georgian Defence Ministry, which said the operation was launched at 0600 Moscow time on Tuesday.

Abkhazian Foreign Minister Sergey Shamba said that, before Tuesday, the Abkhazian Air Force and artillery had been delivering missile and bomb strikes on military targets in the upper part of the Kodori Gorge. Units of regular troops and reservists of the armed forces of Abkhazia are taking part in the operation on Tuesday.

On August 10, Abkhazian President Sergey Bagapsh announced partial mobilisation on the territory of the whole republic - and imposed martial law in the eastern part of Abkhazia for a period of 10 days.

Shamba said that the time given to the Georgian side for the voluntary pulling out of the gorge expired on Tuesday morning.

In July 2006, Georgia deployed its military units in this part of Abkhazia and created a military foothold there.

Meanwhile, Russian peacekeepers and Abkhazian forces have organised a humanitarian corridor in the Gali district on the Georgian-Abkhazian border.

"Georgian troops are fully blocked in the upper part of Abkhazia's Kodori Gorge," said Mirab Kishmaria, Abkhazia’s Defence Minister. "We offer a humanitarian corridor for all of them to leave. If the Georgians don't use this opportunity, an operation for their elimination will begin."

The Georgian residents from neighbouring areas are invited to a special refugee centre in the town of Gali.

But for the moment Georgian troops have closed the humanitarian corridor.

[Source: Russia Today, Moscow, 12Aug08]

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